India's unemployment rate rises to 27.11% amid Covid-19 crisis: CMIE

MUMBAI: The COVID-19 crisis has led to a peak in the country unemployment rate to 27.11 percent for the week ending May 3, above the level of less than 7 percent before the start of the pandemic in mid-March, the Center for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE) said.

The Mumbai-based expert group said the rate of unemployment it was the highest in urban areas, which constitute the largest number of red zones due to COVID-19 cases, with 29.22 percent, compared to 26.69 percent for rural areas.

Analysts have been warning about the spectre of unemployment ever since the country was put under a lockdown on March 25 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrest the spread of the virus infections.

The scenes of migrants fleeing urban centers like Delhi and Mumbai only confirmed long-standing concerns about their employment as economic activity stopped.

So far, the government has announced income and food support to vulnerable people as part of a fiscal stimulus of Rs 1.70 lakh crore to the economic, financial and possibly humanitarian crisis, and is also considering a second round of measures soon.

The US has seen a huge spike in unemployment as over 26 million people have claimed for state support because of losing their jobs. Experts often rue the absence of a good gauge of jobs in India, which is predominantly an unorganised-sector led economy.

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CMIE's weekly series of data pointed to a steady increase in unemployment since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, with the week to March 29 showing the sharpest spike to 23.81 per cent.

As per CMIE's data, the monthly unemployment rate in April stood at 23.52 per cent, up from March's 8.74 per cent.

As of the end of April, Puducherry in South India had the highest number of unemployment at 75.8 per cent, followed by neighbouring Tamil Nadu 49.8 per cent, Jharkhand 47.1 per cent and Bihar 46.6 per cent.

Maharashtra's unemployment rate was pegged at 20.9 per cent by the CMIE, while the same for Haryana stood at 43.2 per cent, Uttar Pradesh at 21.5 per cent and Karnataka at 29.8 per cent.

Hilly states had the lowest incidence of unemployment as of April, the think tank said, pointing out that the rate in Himachal Pradesh stood at 2.2 per cent, Sikkim at 2.3 per cent and Uttarakhand at 6.5 per cent.